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10

How to Increase Metabolism: Stretching? Cardio? Strength Training?

Alexandra, Dr Hill, stretching, piggy back, how to increase metabolism

Alexandra demos how to stretch while boosting metabolism (not hers, his!)

Dear K and A: How to increase metabolism? How?! I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training boosts your metabolic rate. If that’s true, how long should I stretch to get the good stuff going? In all the years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting.  Mary, Holland, MI

Can stretching increase metabolism

Stretch Your Muscles For the Good Stuff

Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions!

  1. How to speed up your metabolism, especially for women over 50.
  2. What’s the relationship between stretching and strength training?
  3. Is stretching post workout the best way to increase metabolic rate?

Let’s tackle these questions separately.

Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:

  • increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
  • may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
  • enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion
  • is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
  • assists in more effective performance of daily living activities

Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.

What's the relationship between stretching and strength training? Click To Tweet

That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. So how to increase metabolism? Not via stretching. You speed up your metabolic rate by following the suggestions in this post: How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

How can you speed up your metabolism, especially if you're a woman over 50? Click To Tweet

I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here, and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read How Do I Lose Weight but not Bulk Up . It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!

Leap for health and metabolic boost

Leaping Across the Abyss of Assumptions

Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise:  Women who do 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increase their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours.  So both weight training AND cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!

Alexandra: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Alexandra Looks into the Abyss and Likes What She Sees

Kymberly: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching soccer on tv. And the players did stretch afterwards. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!

Alexandra: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason.

Kymberly: Lastly, check out our post Stretch Before or After Running, Walking, Fighting?. Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t …cuz’ it’s probably true.

ACTION: Subscribe (and strength train a wee bit) if you have not already. Click this link to see what awaits you on the other side. Hint: It’s a bonus that will help you be more capable, confident, and comfortable in your own body. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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14

How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

What can I do to crank up my metabolism?
Donna, San Diego

Kymberly on a bike
Well, Donna not only are we going to tell you exactly what to do and how, but also stick around to discover one mistake exercisers make when trying to boost their metabolism. You are also going to learn which foods help you be a calorie burning heater even when you are not active. But first a word from our dictionary:

Basal metabolism:  The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.

zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your at-rest baseline usage of energy.”

Get Hip with HIIT

 Eleven variables affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training post.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic… Click To Tweet

It’s Burpee Time!

High Intensity vs. High Impact

By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, which is a mistake many exercisers make when choosing moves. In case you’re not into “jumpy” high impact moves, do low impact, high intensity moves instead, such as spiderman push-ups. They are very low impact, yet as you’ll see if you try a few, they are definitely high intensity.

Cardio + Weight Training = Faster Metabolism

We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism”  by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your old ass donkey doing nothing.

push-up resistance trainingEat for a Speedier Metabolism

The term “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!

We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!

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Photo credits: via CreativeCommons.org: cycloctopus (crank);  beingwell20 (burpee),

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

9

Crank Up Your Metabolism and Digestion

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Crank up that Metabolism!

What can I do to crank up my metabolism and/or digestion? Thanks!
Don, San Diego

Basal metabolism:  The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.

zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your basal metabolic rate.”

There are 11 variables that affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training radio episode.

It’s Burpee Time!

By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, though, in case you’re not into “jumpy” moves. You could do spiderman push-ups, which are very low impact.

We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism”  by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your old ass donkey doing nothing.

As to your digestion…the word “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!

Spiderman Push-ups: Knee to Elbow

 

 

 
We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!

Readers: What high intensity, low impact moves have you discovered that we can share with other readers , especially me those with bad knees?

We have entered a contest by Anytime Fitness that we really want to win. Please click now on the link and give us your vote. We are the twins on the ball who are “flying” through the silver air! Thank you. P.S. It will take about 7 seconds of your time, and we do appreciate every vote!

Burn at least 12 kcals twitching your fingers to subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. And another 13 when you follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the sidebar. Really, it’s all about helping you!

Photo credits: via CreativeCommons.org: cycloctopus (crank);  beingwell20 (burpee), Our FitFluential pal Brendon Payne (spiderman push-up)

Citation for diet stats: http://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/metabolism/#ixzz2DfacauSZ

21

Diet Cheat Days: Yes or No?

Dear Fun and Fit, K and A: I’ve heard that a “cheat day” will boost my metabolism and increase leptin hormone levels. I’m currently losing weight by eating 1250-1350 calories daily. My normal intake is about 1750. Today I ate about 3600 calories for my “cheat day.” Is that too much or is it okay? I’ll go back on my diet tomorrow. Will this all boost my metabolism or cause me to gain weight? Thank you, and greetings from Helsinki, Finland Mira

Cheat Days are High Calorie Days

Hello Mira:
We love your name; it means “wonderful” and “peace.” We’re going to tell you right up front that we are NOT fans of “cheat days” for a whole bunch of reasons. We shall now do our best to talk you out of eating this way.

* Just the name implies you’re a cheater. Who wants to feel that kind of shame and have that label? It’s all negative. We hate the whole concept of looking at food as good or bad. Food isn’t moral; it’s fuel.

Food is not moral; it's fuel. Shift away from bad & good thinking in order to lose weight,… Click To Tweet

1 kabillion calories

*Also, what do most people (and probably you) eat on those 3600 calorie days? Salad? Roasted veggies? Fruit with yogurt? Suuuuuuuure. More like ice cream, candy, chips and all kinds of high fat foods. Sadly, that fat makes its way to your brain, telling it to ignore the “I’m full” signals that those lovely hormone regulators – leptin and insulin – are trying to send. Think of them as your parents, yelling “Put the spoon down,” and the fat as earbuds that you stuck in your ears so you wouldn’t have to listen. It’s not good to become resistant to leptin and insulin because they are your BFFs, and want to help you.

One Cheat Day Can Affect You Half a Week

* This “fat high” can last for up to three days, which means you will spend half of the next week wondering why you’re extra hungry, especially for those high-fat foods. Basically, it’s a short-lived addiction, and willpower cannot overcome addictions.

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Count Your Calories: New Math Tool

* Math has an uncomfortable way of butting in to your weight loss business. If you reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day, you’ll lose about a pound in a week – 500 X 7 = 3500. Everyone is different, but these numbers are a great place to start. You say you normally eat about 1750 calories per day – 1750 – 500 = 1250 (the low number on your diet plan). It will take more than a week to lose a pound of weight if you are at the higher, 1350 amount. But on that 3600 calorie “cheat day,” kowabunga – you just got yourself an extra 1850 calories (3600 – 1750 = 1850). So in 6 days you reduced your intake by 3000 calories, but on that seventh day you took in an extra 1850 (3000 -1850 = 1150). So for the entire week, you had a total reduction of 1150 calories, which means you’re losing less than half a pound a week.
* If you jogged in place during the above math lesson, you might have burned some extra calories! If you hate math, that section just above said, “Cheat Day = Bad Idea.”

Metabolic System Explained in 472 Easy Steps!

Reduce Calories and You Risk Reducing Your Metabolic Rate

* You also asked about metabolism, so let’s go over some weird “opposite day” type of stuff – When you eat less, you expend calories at a slower rates – meaning your metabolism slows down. It has a fancy name – diet induced adaptive thermogenesis. If you want to speed up your metabolism, you should ditch the cheat day AND the diet and just go for 4 or 5 small meals/ snacks a day. Mostly choose healthy food, yet leave space for a few of the treats that you were saving for cheat day. Moderation beats the Restriction – Overindulgence cycle you’re in.
* And we wouldn’t be exercise experts if we didn’t ask, “Mina, are you also exercising?” You had better say, “ kyllä.”  That’s fancy talk for “heck yeah.”

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Photo credits:  Christian Cable, CollectionAgency, lejo72, P.K. Cerda

Alexandra Williams, MA

2

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

Can you give me some do-it-yourself legersizes to make my legs stronger and skinny-jeans fit?

Carolien, Arnhem, Netherlands

A: Legersizes? Legersizes? Is that a Dutch word or a leftover from a Jane Fonda video you have stashed away somewhere? Okay, relax your mind. You are growing sleepy, sleepy. You are traveling back to the early 80s. You are pulling on your leg-warmers and leotard. SNAP! Wake up and get moving, Miss Jackie Foxy Dutchy Brown! Time for your legersizes.

K: Ms. Carolien–who wonderfully speaks English and 80’s talk (important to understand our blog)–to fit into skinny jeans one must consider three things:
1) amount of body fat
2) impact of strength training on leg muscles and
3) fashion tastefulness.

We’ll get to number three later. If your lower body and hip area are carrying any extra fat, you need to engage in regular cardio activity to use up calories. Power walking, biking, and ice skating along frozen canals are all popular and effective cardio activities.Tulip picking does not qualify unless you are running as you grab tulips. In this case you are probably running from the bulb growers who can’t believe you can move so fast in skinny, tight jeans carrying snatched tulips.  Of course you cannot zap fat in one particular area through cardio (sometimes called SPOT REDUCING, which is bad English and worse fitness advice), but you can reduce overall fat if that is part of why the jeans are not fitting now.

In addition to reducing stored fat through cardio, you are right to want to do some lower body strength training as well. Not only will such training improve your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) and help use calories before they get stored as excess body fat, but also you will define and streamline the leg muscles. The important thing is to distinguish between training for hypertrophy (bigger muscles, which you probably don’t want) and actual strength. The exercises Alexandra advises below are all perfect for your goal in that they mostly use your body weight against gravity as the resistance factor. That is, you are not taking on heavy loads as you perform the leg exercises, aka legersizes.

A: I would happily describe some actual exercises for you, but my fingers are all worn out from pulling on my leg-warmers and “tushy-floss” thong leotard. Since you say “do-it-yourself,” I assume you mean at home, no machines, right? Or do you mean you want to grab your leg and move it around a little? Come to think of it, hopping around on one leg, doing the “Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien dance-off” bit.ly/9zUzr3 would be pretty special. But I digress. Since we love happy readers, though, here is a link to some nice exercises that should do the trick:bit.ly/97ZqT2. Pay particular attention to the 3-legged squat, wide squat, single-leg dip squat, all-fours alternate arm/leg lift, lunge w/barbell or bar, alternating power lunges, prone leg lift, standing single-leg hip extension with knee flexion and (finally, I was starting to bore myself) the hip bridge. These are all great exercises, and there are many more, yet here is the most important thing of all…wait for it…wear your skinny jeans while doing all these exercises. That way you know for sure that they’ll fit.

K: Now that your jeans fit, let’s discuss that third aspect mentioned above: fashion tastefulness. If your skinny jeans can easily be imitated by spray paint or if when wearing them you suddenly develop Muffin Top syndrome, then what the heck are you thinking??!! Get some other kind of Euro pants that allow you to comfortably and tastefully cruise the achthondered achtentachtig grachten (888 canals).

Fashionista Readers (including foreigners who speak English): What outfit did you devote exercise time and effort to just so you could wear that special outfit?